On 16 December 2014, Bill C-43 received Royal Assent. This bill includes provisions that would allow provinces to deny social assistance to newly arrived refugee claimants, by imposing minimum residency requirements.
The provisions were opposed by organizations from a wide range of sectors, including health, poverty, human rights, faith communities, refugees, women and legal advocates. There were more than 160 signatories to an Open Letter to Finance Minister Joe Oliver.
Although Bill C-43 is now law, the measures will not take effect unless a province decides to impose a residency requirement for refugee claimants.
What has changed?
Amendments were made to the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act that allow provinces to impose residency requirements for access to social assistance, but only for refugee claimants and other people without permanent status in Canada. Previously, the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act prohibited any minimum period of residency requirement, for anyone.
For more information, see Refugees and social assistance: Frequently Asked Questions
- C-43 and social assistance: kicking people when they are down, Submission to the Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology on Bill C-43, November 2014
- Budget bill targets refugees at their most vulnerable, media release, 28 October 2014
Other comments and submissions
- Amnesty International, Denying Social Assistance to Refugee Claimants Violates International Law: Bill C-585 Must be Withdrawn, 22 October 2014
- Canada Without Poverty, Submission to the FINA committee, November 18, 2014
- CBC: The Current, Refugee advocates say omnibus bill will cut off refugees from social services
- Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, Brief to the Citizenship and Immigration Committee, November 2014
- Canadian Association of Social Workers, Unwelcome to Canada, media release, 28 October 2014 and Submission to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration
- Citizens for Public Justice, Protecting the Vulnerable, submission to Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, November 2014
- Income Security Advocacy Centre, Presentation to the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, November 2014
- The Canadian Bar Association, Letter to Senators Ogilvie and Day and Messrs. Tilson and Rajotte, November 2014